Elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has backed former minister of defence, General Theophilus Y. Danjuma’s call to Nigerians to defend themselves against alleged killer herdsmen.
He reiterated that the 1999 Constitution (as amended), guarantees every Nigerian the option of self-defence; if provoked or attacked.
Nwabueze also noted that the Federal Government’s failure to take proactive action against alleged killer herdsmen has put the country in a situation where anarchy and ethnic cleansing may be inevitable.
“Anarchy and a consequent ‘ethnic cleansing’ loom in the horizon if the attacks, killings, destruction of property and displacement of people by Fulani herdsmen continue unchecked and unpunished, given the failure or inability of the federal government to take action; to that effect, a state of things that may likely force the communities at the receiving end to resort to self-defence, as guaranteed by section 33(1) & (2) of the Constitution.”
Nwabueze reiterated that Danjuma only re-echoed a guarantee in Nigeria’s constitution when, in a statement on March 24, he called on Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves against the murderous attacks of Fulani herdsmen.
“The action, which the aggrieved individuals may take in self-defence, guaranteed by the constitution, must be viewed in the context of the extraordinary situation created by Fulani herdsmen insurgency and the means they employ – AK47, and other sophisticated weaponry.
“Faced by an attack by such means, self-defence using sticks, bows and arrows is futile and meaningless. What is the value in guaranteeing a person the right of self-defence and then denying him the appropriate means to exercise the right effectively when the need to do so arises? Self-defence, to be effective and meaningful in the prevailing context, must be by means proportioned to the means employed by the attackers. Disarming the citizenry and leaving them unprotected against killer Fulani herdsmen would only render nugatory, to a large extent, the constitutional guarantee of self-defence, viewed again in the context of the extraordinary situation created by the Fulani herdsmen armed insurgency and the failure or inability of the federal government to stop it.”
He said Danjuma did not just get up to make the call.
“He was moved to do so by the extraordinary situation, with its tragic effects, created by the Fulani herdsmen and the federal government. The result of Nigerians rising up to defend themselves may be indiscriminate killings, on both sides, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and anarchy.”
Regardless, the elder statesman hoped that such should not happen and added that if allowing Nigerians to bear and keep arms for self-defence leads to chaos, President Buhari should be held responsible. “Should allowing Nigerians to keep and bear arms ever lead to anarchy and ethnic cleansing, then, the blame for that should be laid squarely on President Buhari for failing to disarm the killer Fulani herdsmen at the early beginnings of the conflict. Had that been done, the killings, the destruction of property and the displacement of persons might not have occurred to the point of their escalation to a national calamity, and the point where self-defence becomes a national issue. Still armed with AK-47 guns, the Fulani herdsmen were thus enabled to kill people in Kaduna State on March 29 and even on the very days the president went on a visit to some of the affected states – Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara and Benue.”